National Activities Providers and Professionals Week 2022 #NAPPW22
Veteran Activities Coordinator, Ewa Cwiklak, explains the importance of activities for empowering residents to thrive in our care homes.
This week (24 – 28 January) the National Activities Providers Association (NAPA) marks its 25th Anniversary by launching the first National Activities Providers and Professionals Week (#NAPPW22) to celebrate the importance of activities in care homes.
OSJCT Care Quality Director, Robert Black, said: “Our team of Activities Coordinators play a hugely important role in supporting the wellbeing of our residents and empowering them with a stimulating and varied programme of activities designed to bring out their passions and strengths. They do a fantastic job all year round, but it is fitting during National Activities Providers and Professionals Week to express my thanks to them, and everyone who supports activities in our homes.”
OSJCT care homes run meaningful activity programmes tailored for residents, many of whom have mobility issues, or live with dementia. Ewa Cwiklak, who joined the Trust as a part-time housekeeper in 2007, spent five years as a full-time Activities Coordinator (AC) at Monkscroft Care Centre in Gloucestershire and now supports ACs Trust-wide in a central support team role. She has been awarded OSJCT Activities Coordinator of the Year and was a finalist in the Heart of Gloucestershire ‘Hero in the Community’ Awards, among other accolades. Ewa share her thoughts on this most creative and nimble role.
“The Activities Coordinator role involves far more than just organising some entertainment for residents. Their work is focused on making each resident feel unique, giving them purpose, a sense of worth and belonging. ACs promote social inclusion in and outside the home through being respectful and responsive to each individual’s needs and values.
“As people may remember their favourite inspirational teacher, Activities Coordinators similarly bring out the strengths and passions of residents. Meaningful activities support residents’ wellbeing by encouraging them to make active choices or requests, which reflect their preferences. Residents may also engage with an activity which becomes a new passion or hobby for them such as calligraphy or flower pressing, proving the saying, ‘It’s never too late to learn something new’.
“Participating in activities allows residents to show emotions, to smile more, to relax in the enjoyment of a favourite or stimulating pastime, and to communicate maybe through words or gestures.
“In many ways ACs become detectives to find out what inspires each resident and getting to know them like a loved one. They use person-centred tools such as great listening skills to understand the background of each individual, what they like, dislike, what their strengths are and how they can contribute to life and community in the care home.
“ACs also build good rapport with family members, who can also add to the understanding of their loved one, and what they like to do. This can be especially important for residents who live with dementia, or those that can’t express themselves verbally.
Ewa points out that often residents have skills and knowledge to share, such as when they taught her the common phrases used in Bingo, new to her having come from Poland. Ewa said: “Encouraging residents to take part, or letting them lead or contribute to planning activities, allows us to recognise their abilities, which in turn helps them to feel valued, to thrive.
“ACs think very creatively to find out what sparks interest from each individual. One new resident refused painting, quizzes and even music sessions. For him it was animals that engaged him, as we found when we organised for some birds of prey to visit the home. He was the first one out of his room, keen to watch the display.”
Ewa has supported Home Managers with AC recruitment. She explains what it takes to become one: “It’s about having a passion for working with people, for being a detective to find out what makes each resident tick. It’s not just about entertainment, there are many more qualities which are involved: love, caring, compassion, education, leadership, community relations, decision making, planning and managing resources, diplomacy, enthusiasm, and a great sense of humour.
“Like teaching it’s not a role where you start with all the answers, it’s one where your tools and experience grow, but it’s so rewarding to see a resident smile, to join in enthusiastically, or to relax with a memory or a favourite hobby.”
To explore opportunities to join OSJCT as an Activities Coordinator visit www.osjct.co.uk/heroes, or as a volunteer to support with activities in a home visit https://volunteer.osjct.co.uk/opportunities